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The world’s smallest bear: “Bear” is critically endangered in China

  Speaking of bears, many people will think of the characteristics of “big man”, “hibernation” and “burrowing”. However, there is one kind of bear that does not have any of the above labels. They live in the hot and humid Asian rainforest, eat bugs, and have a kung fu that other bears can’t match. This is the world’s smallest bear – the sun bear, commonly known as “the bear”. The sun bear is a national first-class protected animal in my country. It has only appeared in Tibet, Yunnan and Guangxi. Deforestation, poaching and smuggling pose a major threat to the survival of the sun bear. It is listed in the “China Biodiversity Red List Mammals”. ” is included in the “critically endangered” level. It is listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Animals.
  When sitting like a fat dog, it is called “dog bear”
  sun bear, alias sun bear and little black bear. In animal taxonomy, it is classified into the carnivorous order Ursidae, Ursidae, and the genus Sun bear. It wears smooth black short hair and has a brown snout. Yellow, taupe around the eyes, short round ears. There is a small piece of light-colored hair (mostly orange or yellow) on its chest, which is a “V-neck”-shaped chest spot, which is very similar to the Asian black bear widely distributed in my country. However, as the smallest bear, the sun bear is only 120-150 cm in length. The adult male weighs only more than 70 kg, which is only about half of the Asian black bear. It is sometimes easily mistaken for the small Asian black bear. The smallest of the bear species. The sun bear sits like a fat dog, also known as the “bear”.
  Sun bears were officially recorded in 1972.
  Sun bears mainly live in tropical rain forests in Southeast Asia and South Asia at an altitude of 2,700 meters, covering Cambodia, eastern India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. In China, only Tibet , Yunnan and Guangxi can only be seen. my country is a marginal distribution area of ​​sun bears, and the wild population is very small. The last survey and assessment was in 1998, and the estimated number was about 140.
  During the second national terrestrial wildlife resource survey, Chinese researchers photographed sun bear individuals in Jilonggou, Jilong County, Tibet on August 31, 2013.
  According to a report in Zoological Research, a journal of the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, when the Forestry Bureau of Yingjiang County, Yunnan Province carried out a biodiversity inspection, a sun bear was photographed on October 23, 2016 by an installed infrared-triggered camera. From the video, you can clearly see the typical characteristics of the sun bear: a shortened snout, a light muzzle, a light face, short and round ears without hair tips, a body covered with smooth short hair and a horseshoe-shaped white chest spot, The limbs are slender, the forelimbs are significantly curved, and the forefoot is curved inward.
  Dr. Jiang Xuelong, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who jointly participated in the investigation, introduced that my country officially recorded the sun bear in 1972. At that time, the researchers collected a female sun bear during an investigation in Lvchun County, Yunnan Province, which proved for the first time that Malay Presence of bears in southern Yunnan. In the past, there were some records of sun bears in China, but most of the evidences were from skin specimens acquired through visits or acquisitions, and there was no evidence of actual observation in the field. At one time, some scholars had doubts about the records of sun bears in China. The photo data of sun bears taken this time is very meaningful and can further confirm the distribution of sun bears in China. In the future, researchers will increase the monitoring of areas where sun bears may appear.
  No need for hibernation, loneliness and high cold.
  Because of the constant supply of food in tropical forests throughout the year, sun bears do not need to hibernate like bears in temperate and cold zones. Due to long-term living in a high temperature environment, the sun bear has short and sparse body hair, which helps to dissipate heat. Because of their agility, they spend most of their time on trees and like to be out at night. They even use dead branches and other materials to build a simple nest on a relatively sturdy tree branch, and sleep in the sun during the day. Except for the mating period and the parenting period of female bears, sun bears are usually alone.
  Three “specialties” to help with eating
  Similar to other bears, sun bears are also omnivores. Fruits, insects, small vertebrates, and honey are all in their diets. They are basically “cooked in a bowl” for common food in the forest. Known as “opportunistic foragers”. Most of the sun bears eat seasonal fruits. During the period of lack of seasonal fruits, the perennial figs have become one of the main foods of sun bears. If the fruit is not enough, small invertebrates such as termites, ants, centipedes, long beetles, earthworms and millipedes are also delicacies for sun bears to satisfy their appetite, and honey is regarded as a high-grade and rare food for sun bears. . In order to eat these delicacies better, the sun bear also has 3 “specialties”.
  Canine specialty: Despite its small size, the sun bear rarely preys on medium and large prey, but its canine teeth are one of the longest among bears, and its bite force is far better than that of the burly sloth bears and Asiatic black bears. This “equipment” and strength allows sun bears to nibble open beehives, turn ant nests and peel bark with ease.
  Claw specialty: Sun bears have large and long sharp claws, which are in the shape of a sickle. On the one hand, they can cooperate with canine teeth to dig or tear open dead wood to find insects to eat. A tree climber.
  Tongue length: The sun bear’s tongue is 20 to 25 centimeters long. It has the posture of an anteater. It is undoubtedly a big killer for insects hiding in small caves.
  Natural “forest ranger”
  It is worth mentioning that the sun bear is called a natural “forest ranger”, and it has made a lot of contribution to the ecology of its habitat by eating and drinking every day.
  Maintaining forest tree reproduction: As a fruit-loving animal, sun bears can carry indigestible seeds farther through defecation. This process, called “seed relocation”, keeps the seeds away from the mother tree and increases their survival rate.
  Create housing for other animals: Because sun bears love honey, the honeycombs they have dug leave a hole in the tree that can serve as a good nesting place for hornbills or flying squirrels.
  Prevent termite infestations from overly damaging vegetation: Termite colonies sometimes build nests in trees, gradually eating away healthy trees and causing them to die. Sun bears are the nemesis of termites. Their “smashing Huanglong”-style predation habit helps to control the number of termites in the forest and slow down the erosion of trees.
  Balanced soil nutrition: In order to eat small invertebrates such as earthworms, horse land, beetles and other small invertebrates under the soil, sun bears often need to dig three feet in the ground to “Taobao”. This process contributes to the balance of soil nutrients, and at the same time enhances the respiration and material exchange of plant roots.
  Habitat loss reduced by 30%. The mating period of sun bears is estrus from June to August
  each year . The pregnancy period of female bears is about 6 to 7 months. Only about 300 grams, eyes can not open, about 2 to 5 months after the mother can go out to walk around. Cubs leave the mother’s nursery at about 1.5 years old, and reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years old. Females are slightly earlier than males. Sun bears in the wild can live to be about 24 years old, and sun bears raised in animal conservation centers can live to 35 years old.
  As the smallest bear, the sun bear cannot live comfortably in the forest. Tigers, leopards and other big cats, and even pythons are its enemies. Of course, the sun bear will fight back when it encounters danger. Bickmore, a scholar at the American Museum of Natural History, once found a sun bear and a tiger in Sumatra. However, the biggest enemy of the sun bear is actually humans, and habitat loss caused by poaching and deforestation seriously threatens its population.
  Each male sun bear needs at least 15 square kilometers of forest habitat to have enough food to keep them alive. Large-scale deforestation in Southeast Asia has resulted in massive loss and fragmentation of sun bear habitat.
  The medicinal properties of bear bile can be substituted
  In order to obtain bear bile and bear paw. The huge sun bear product market in Asia has contributed to the continued active poaching. According to the official website of my country’s Endangered Species Science Committee, in January 2004, Yunnan Province seized 38 smuggled sun bear paws; in 2008, Yunnan Tengchong Customs seized 1 sun bear illegally transported and sold; A sun bear cub.
  In fact, the main component of bear bile that is beneficial to human liver and gallbladder health, ursodeoxycholic acid, has long been obtained through artificial synthesis, and the cost is not high, and the efficacy is even better and safer. The bile of “original” bear bile is a mixture of various components, and there may be harmful metabolic waste. It can be said that the medical value of bear bile is not irreplaceable, and it is not necessary to hunt bears for bile.
  According to a 2008 assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to habitat loss and rampant poaching, the sun bear population has shrunk by 30% in the previous 30 years and is now listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List (vu )class. The sun bear is a national first-class protected animal in my country, and it is listed as “critically endangered” (CR) in the latest edition of the “China Biodiversity Red List (Vertebrate Volume)”. It is urgent to strengthen the investigation and protection of sun bear resources.

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